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songs that inspire travel

This post is part of a mini-series about travel inspiring literature and media. Some people prefer to absorb their travel inspiration from books, others from movies. In this series I’m going to highlight my favorites from each of the following categories: quotes and poems, books, songs, movies, and television shows.

I have a TON of travel-related playlists on my iPod and they make traveling even more enjoyable. I believe that traveling is a necessity in life even if you wait until retirement to do it, and visiting can help you free up some funds to allow you to do it, so there’s no excuse.
Road trip playlists, Irish music playlists, even one for my upcoming trip to England. But my favorite travel playlist has to be the “general travel” playlist. It’s full of a variety of songs, some upbeat, some mellow, and they all give me wanderlust to places far, far away. Sometimes I even listen to my travel playlist while looking through a website like to really get in the mood for my next vacation. So, here is a list of my 40 favorite travel inspiring songs.

“Africa” by Toto

Okay so I’m a type A organizer and I’m doing this list alphabetically. The fact that “Africa” is first has nothing to do with the fact that I’m currently in Africa. Well, maybe it does a little.

I love this 80’s song and its one that’s included on almost everyone’s travel music playlist. The music video is a bit over the top so instead, I’ll share my favorite version, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s video montage from their pre-children trip to Africa. You’re welcome.

“Barcelona” by George Ezra

I just love George Ezra’s voice. He’s so talented. I used to play the guitar when I was in school, but haven’t done so for a while now. If I was to be as good as George, I’d need some more lessons, time to practice and guitar accessories like guitar picks and string sets. But for now, enjoying the music of George Ezra is more than enough for me. “Barcelona” is a mellow song from his debut album Wanted on Voyage and was inspired by a trip around Europe that he took in 2013.

“The native man sang in a foreign tongue,
I still ache to know the song that he sung,

“Best Day of My Life” by American Authors

This upbeat tune is an excellent choice for an epic adventure. It’s one that I’ve also included in my Kilimanjaro playlist to help get me up the mountain.

“Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin

I’ve always called “Beyond the Sea” our wedding song even though we never danced to it at our wedding. That’s kinda what happens when you get hitched in Vegas. There’s sometimes a cake, sometimes a wedding dress but no actual wedding reception.

Still, this classic song had always resonated with me, not just because it reminded me of my Navy sailor but because it’s also travel-inspiring. It’s especially great for travelers who have fallen in love overseas.

“Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin'”

“Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson

A mellow song about getting away from it all. I sometimes find myself singing these lyrics at the tops of my lungs during a road trip. On an airplane I’m a little more considerate.

“Want to feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean
Get on board a fast train
Travel on a jet plane
And breakaway”

“Budapest” by George Ezra

Another great song from George Ezra on the same album as “Barcelona”. This one is more popular so you may have heard it before on the radio. Did I mention how much I LOVE his voice?

“Come Fly with Me” by Frank Sinatra

This 1950’s song by Frank Sinatra is likely one of the first travel-inspiring songs and is still a great one to listen to today. Another version was done by Michael Bublé in 2010.

“Come fly with me, let’s float down to Peru
In llama land there’s a one-man band
And he’ll toot his flute for you
Come fly with me, let’s take off in the blue”

“Come Sail Away” by Styx

I love the mellow opening of this song but it’s probably the upbeat ending that most people recognize. Either way, listen carefully to the lyrics and you just may be inspired to sail away to some faraway land.

“Daydream Believer” by The Monkees

This song lacks travel-inspiring lyrics but it’s a classic British song that might make you want to take a trip across the pond. It’s one of many songs I’ve got on my England Adventure playlist.

“Down Under” by Men at Work

A classic song about traveling around Australia. If I simply put an excerpt from the lyrics here you might not recognize the song. It’s the instrumental opening that most people remember.

“Escape (Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes

This song is about a man who, bored in his current relationship, checks out the personal ads. He responds to one that catches his eye only to discover the writer is his current girlfriend. Neither one knew how much they had in common and finally discover they are soul mates.

The original song is done by Rupert Holmes but I prefer the more mellow version found on the soundtrack to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

“If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape”

“Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz

One of Lenny Kravitz’s most popular songs is “Fly Away”. Though the lyrics are simple the rhythm is addictive and I love it. It’s one of my favorite road trip songs.

“Go Big or Go Home” by American Authors

I just LOVE this upbeat song by American Authors. It’s another song that made it on my Kilimanjaro playlist and is a song that’s especially great for budget and adventure travelers.

“Good Life” by OneRepublic

OneRepublic has become one of my favorite bands over the past year. This song reminds us that in the grand scheme of things there is little for us to complain about. The lyrics aren’t too explicit but the word bullsh*t is repeated a couple times so if you’re creating a family-friendly playlist then keep that in mind.

“Woke up in London yesterday
Found myself in the city near Piccadilly
Don’t really know how I got here
I got some pictures on my phone

New names and numbers that I don’t know
Address to places like Abbey Road
Day turns to night, night turns to whatever we want
We’re young enough to say”

“Holiday Road” by Lindsey Buckingham

Who doesn’t love the classic Chevy Chase Vacation movies? I think I own all of them! This is the theme song for them and a must-have for any road trip playlist.

“Home” by Phillip Phillips

This song by American Idol winner Phillip Phillips makes me think of expats and other long-term travelers that are looking for a new place to call home.

“Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford & Sons

Another great song for backpackers and long-term travelers. Don’t be fooled by the mellow opening, it’s a pretty upbeat song!

“And hold me fast, hold me fast
‘Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I’m under”

“If I Ever Leave This World Alive” by Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly is one of the bands I included on my Irish travel playlist and this song is one of my favorites. If you’re making plans to travel to the Emerald Isle then this song is a must-have. Fans of the movie P.S. I Love You will probably recognize this song as well.

“I Lived” by OneRepublic

Another song by OneRepublic about living life to the fullest. The music video is extremely powerful, have a tissue ready. This is probably my favorite song of all time.

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

This song by Scottish singers Charlie and Craig Reid are naturally on my England travel playlist but I also like listening to this song for any kind of adventure. I love the upbeat tune and the accent!

“But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door”

“I’m on My Way” by The Proclaimers

Another wonderfully inspiring song by The Proclaimers. If you recognize the first song then you’ve probably heard this one too.

“I took the road that brought me to your home town
I took the bus to streets that I could walk down
I walked the streets to find the one I’d looked for
I climbed the stair that led me to your front door”

“It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons

This band is another one I’ve fallen in love with this year. This song makes me want to quit my job and hit the road!

“Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte

I dare you to listen to this song without dancing. “Jump in the Line” makes me want to board the next plane for the Caribbean and stay there!

“Knee Deep” by Zac Brown Band

I think that country songs are sorely under-represented in most travel playlists. Country music has some great travel-inspiring songs and this one by Zac Brown Band is one of my favorites. It’s a song that’s perfect for any beach travel.

“This champagne shore washing over me
It’s a sweet sweet life living by the salty sea
One day you could be as lost as me
Change your geography”

“Kokomo” by The Beach Boys

Speaking of beach travel, this song is a classic beach tune. Really almost all songs by The Beach Boys are perfect for a sunny vacation but this one is my favorite.

“Lake Michigan” by Rogue Wave

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Rogue Wave before last year. I fell in love with this song simply because it’s featured in one of my favorite travel-inspiring movies, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. So I suppose it’s the movie I find most inspiring, not the song, but it’s a good addition for your playlist if you’re a fan of the movie as well.

“Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver

This classic song was originally sung by John Denver but I much prefer the version by Chantal Kreviazuk. I just think it’s much better sung by a female but either version works.

“All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye”

“Les Champs-Elysées” by Joe Dassin

This French song is so incredibly beautiful that even though I can only sing a few lines I still love listening to it. Finding love on the streets of Paris, what can be more perfect than that?

“Life in Color” by OneRepublic

What can I say, I REALLY like OneRepublic. This is another upbeat song about living life like an adventure. Their official music video is a more mellow acoustic version but I like the upbeat one better.

“Well this is life in motion (motion)
And just when I could run this race no more
The sun bursts, clouds break
This is life in color”

“Me Gustas Tu” by Manu Chao

I’m probably the only person who thinks this song is travel-inspiring but this Spanish song by Manu Chao reminds me so much of my time in Peru. During our Spanish lessons in Cusco we had to listen to this song and fill in the lyrics on a worksheet. Over and over again we’d listen to this song until we filled out our sheet completely. For weeks I had it stuck in my head.

“On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons

Another upbeat tune from Imagine Dragons. If I make it to the top of Kilimanjaro then I’ll probably turn this song into a video montage of my trek.

“Ready to Run” by One Direction

I love this song by One Direction. The lyrics aren’t solely about travel but it’s something I like to play during a road trip.

“This time I’m ready to run
Escape from the city and follow the sun
‘Cause I wanna be yours, don’t you wanna be mine?
I don’t wanna get lost in the dark of the night”

“Roam” by The B-52’s

“Roam” is a song that’s likely on any travel playlist you come across. I love playing this song for a girl’s weekend or a solo trip.

“Say Hey (I Love You)” by Michael Franti & Spearhead

This is such a happy song that I just had to have it on my travel playlist. It’s good for any travel but is a must-have for a Caribbean trip. I just LOVE that this music video has real people in it!

“Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root

A joyful song that’s conveyed through the music video. “Send Me on My Way” wasn’t a chart-topping song back in the day but it’s a classic and I love the unique instruments and vocals.

“The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh Song)” by The Tokens

This song is one of the top travel-inspiring classics. I used this song to create a video montage of our trip in the Amazon jungle so it reminds me a lot of Peru.

“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley

This song is popular with backpackers but I like it because it’s so mellow and simple. This song makes a great addition to a beach travel playlist.

“Singing’ ‘Don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright.’
Singing’ ‘Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright!'”

“Toes” by Zac Brown Band

Another great beach song but the original includes some explicit lyrics so you might have to find a different version if you’re making a family-friendly playlist.

“Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles

It would be a sin to visit Egypt without having this on your mp3 player! I have to admit that I also have this song on my workout playlist so if you see me on the elliptical trainer going 1,000 miles an hour then it’s probably because this song came on.

“When I’m Gone (Cups Song)” by Anna Kendrick

Everyone knows this song as the Cups Song from the movie Pitch Perfect. It’s a great inspiration for those working in a dead-end job who want to just pack up their bags and hit the road.

And there you have it! My 40 favorite songs that inspire travel. Did you discover any to add to your own playlist? What songs would you add?

40 Favorite Travel-Inspiring Songs for Your Travel Playlist

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  1. Awesome that you included the videos of all of these songs. I haven’t listened to many of them before so I was glad not to have to look them up. It would be fun to have a travel playlist.

  2. Fun post! Loved that. I would pick Holiday Road, Roam, Down Under, The Escape Song, and Africa as my favorites from that list. Yep, an 80’s girl all the way.

  3. that’s a great playlist!

  4. Super love all your recommendations. Most of these are timeless classics! My kind of jam. 😉

  5. Love some of these tracks – but I think I may be sick of Toto’s Africa by the end of my 6 week overland safari! (But I could never get sick of The Lion Sleeps Tonight!!) 🙂

  6. ‘Africa’ is the PERFECT start to this playlist! I started the video and it played while reading this post, Kristen and Dax made it doubly enjoyable! Love the variety in genre in this list, I can never leave the country without a good playlist. Thank you for a new one!

  7. Great list! I love a lot of these songs, and will have to add a bunch of the others to my playlist! It’s always so nice to have songs that make you feel like traveling or ones that remind you of special trip somewhere! Oh and I LOVE that video that Dax and Kristen made for Africa–so hilarious!

  8. What a fun post! I don’t know all these songs (yet…;-) but they certainly make a great travel playlist for my upcoming road trip!

  9. So many I love from “The Good Life” to “When I’m Gone”. Have a long flight coming up so I’ll have to try a couple of the new ones. Thanks.

  10. I love this list! I would also ad Gypsy heart by Colbie Calliat
    Wide open spaces by Dixie Chicks
    What a wonderful world by Louis Armstrong
    Crusin’ by Colbie Calliat
    Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol and
    Stay by Maurice Williams

  11. […] you cannot enjoy when you try to be perfect. So, let loose, make a killer playlist including these 40 songs and remember to have the best time of your […]

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